Benoit Grimalt – Do You Know Syd Barrett?

Copyright Benoit Grimalt 2009, courtesy Les Editons Poursuite

How do you try to connect with someone whom you have never met, only recently learned about and who is already deceased. This is a person with whom you will never meet and subsequently not have a personal relationship with? Yet your curiosity is whetted enough that you reach out to a place in which they lived, and by chance of close approximation, attempt to see their environment through your eyes. Maybe you will see something that they saw; would that create enough of a bond with this elusive person?

 Syd (Roger Keith) Barrett, is a musical riddle cloaked in mystery, who after co-founding the band Pink Flyod, subsequently at age 29 left the musical industry to live in self-recluse at his mother’s home in Cambridge, England. There he tended to his gardens, walked about the village and sometimes rode his bicycle until his passing at age 60 in 2006.

Reading Do you know Syd Barrett?, we will learn nothing more about the musician than what we already know. Benoit Grimalt’s photographs are not meant to investigate further into Barrett’s life and work, but they draw a romantic vision of Cambridge and of England, in tribute to the artist.

 Had Syd Barrett noticed these things about his environment, the street crossing, the nearby café, the cross over bridge, the sidewalks that butted up to the adjacent homes, the trees blooming in the Spring, the verdundent and soft grass, the aging infrastructure, perhaps the place that might be his last resting place at St Margaret as his illness continued during his decline. The color photographs, some in sharp detail, others with a translucent glaze over them, evokes a latent vision, of memories and mysteries.

 This is a small perfect bound book with stiff covers, with the text handwritten in French but accompanied by an English translation insert of the four principal pages. Even if you are unable to read French, you have more than enough clues to take this wonderful journey around Cambridge with the ever small side trip to London, perhaps much like Barrett did.

By Douglas Stockdale

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